The end of James Joyce’s mammoth novel Ulysses famously ends with the protagonist’s wife shouting, “and yes I said yes I will Yes!” How many of us hope and pray that when we offer our book to bloggers, they will take a note from Molly Bloom and shout YES!
Bloggers are key influencers in today’s buyer market and should play a pretty consistent role in your book promotion efforts. That said, approaching them takes a lot of work, real finesse, and a thick skin because all authors hear their shares of no, even the most successful ones.
But you won’t hear yes without the same efforts that also produce the no’s. So a successful collaboration with a blogger who already has the eyes of hundreds or thousands of individuals in your target buyer market is not an opportunity you want to throw away.
Researching and pitching bloggers should be a healthy part of your book promotion plan, and in the spirit of learning from mistakes, here are tips based on some of the biggest blogger complaints. Avoiding these pitfalls can help you get closer to that coveted YES!
Complaint #1: Not making it personal.
Whatever you do, take the time to figure out the blog owner’s name and/or how they refer to themselves. If they use a fun handle that gives them a bit of anonymity, go with it – we’re authors, we can appreciate a pen name. This is a big deal.
Book promotion is about selling your brand, and you don’t want to sell something generic and mass produced, right? So speak to the blog owner in a way that shows you care about the platform they’ve built, their preferred style of communication, and the overall vibe they’ve created.
When people contact us to be featured on the Author Marketing Experts blog, for example, I find it frustrating when they address their query to “website owner” when Penny Sansevieri is literally all over our platform and easy to confirm with a quick Google search.
Complaint #2: Not following site rules.
Most bloggers provide guidelines for contacting them or submitting ideas for feature or review. This is not because they’re bored and need more content for their site – it’s because they are people who need to manage their workflow, just like you. Respect their boundaries and parameters: some people prefer email, some (rarely) don’t mind phone calls, and some like to keep their inbox organized by requesting that specific subject lines be used depending on the nature of your query.
In addition to contact rules, they may have specific rules about submission requirements – some may only take traditionally published books, while others may only take submissions before a certain day of the month.
The point is, this is a valid blogger complaint because they’re putting in the effort to easily determine whether you’re a good fit for the platform, so you should return that effort in kind.
Complaint #3: Not doing your research.
In addition to understanding the blog owner, you also need to understand their followers. So much about book promotion involves understanding your target market and how they tick, so use that insight to improve your chances with bloggers.
We see this so much with the Author Marketing Experts blog: we get pitches from people who want us to feature their latest infographic on website coding, which is really not the kind of content that the majority of our followers need from us.
Read through a number of posts, check out the comments, and if the blogger does giveaways and special online events, take note of how these are structured because I can tell you right now that bloggers DO understand their audience, so their choices give you a lot of insider tips on what their followers respond to.
Complaint #4: Not creating a unique offering.
This plays off of complaint #3, where understanding your audience also means you need to bring something to the table that they’ll respond to. Yes, your book is awesome, but don’t get cocky, it’s not enough in a lot of cases.
Offer additional copies for a reader drawing or giveaway. Maybe you have a teaser chapter they can download from the blog directly. Perhaps you have a useful worksheet you’ve created. And when I say ‘maybe’ and ‘perhaps’ what I really mean is, work on these now if you don’t already have them.
Your book promotion arsenal should always include a couple of freebie options and materials that are ready to rock and roll when an opportunity arises. You should continually brainstorm these ideas and offerings because most bloggers want to offer something unique and special to their readers. Don’t plan on having the same teaser posted to multiple blogs you’re reaching out to – that’s kind of lame and shows lack of creativity.
Be ready to offer something unique to the blogger along with a free copy of your book in their chosen format.
Complaint #5: Not respecting their time.
Proceed with caution when it comes to following up on communications. One genuine follow up can show you’re taking your offer to them seriously. More than that gets into dangerous Fatal Attraction territory. Okay, maybe not that extreme, but you get the point. Hopefully even if the answer is ‘no’ the first time around, the blogger will give you some insight into why, and you can make notes on your pitching tracker that will help you approach them again in the future.
Life really is about iteration. Learn from the nos and when you get that coveted YES, enjoy it and then get busy making the most of it.
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon Optimization programs as well as Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon: 2021 Amazon Ads Powerhouse Edition, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing, and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet." Her next book From Book to Bestseller is due out in Summer 2021.
AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal.
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.